Butterfly Mural and Garden
Transform Yourself and Volunteer
So many times we hear how our volunteers feel as if they have been transformed by the process of learning something new, giving back to our community, or simply the powerful feeling of being needed and appreciated.
We absolutely love the volunteers in our squad and those in our sister rescue squads in Virginia Beach that make up our very special EMS system.
We also love the symbolism of transforming into a beautiful butterfly, and that’s why the colorful mural on our oceanfront station celebrates this process. Even better, we’ve created a lovely pollinator garden to go with it.
Station 14 is close to the ViBe Creative District and is on the Walking Mural Tour map.
Meg French, Our Pollinator Garden Designer
Meg, a certified landscape designer with a degree in horticulture, owns Meg French Landscape Design. She is a Master Naturalist, a Member of The Virginia Society of Landscape Designers, and on the Horticulture Board for the Garden Club of Virginia. She has over 20 years of experience serving the Hampton Roads community.
Designing the new butterfly garden for the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad was a wonderful pleasure for me to give back to the community as well as to work with VBVRS member Emily Mills on the exciting, beautiful and educational project. Our goal was to plan a well-designed butterfly garden, which would provide for and support butterflies so they could enjoy permanent residence in our garden, from egg, to chrysalis, to adult butterfly…repeat!
We chose flowering plants that were nectar rich and could provide overlapping seasons of continual blooming, providing nectar (a butterfly’s food source) from early spring through late fall. We also needed to provide specific “host plants” for the different species of butterflies to lay their eggs on. For example, a Monarch butterfly will lay her eggs on milkweed, whereas an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail will search for trees and shrubs such as chokecherry shrubs, black cherry trees, black willow trees or pussy willows.
Once the butterfly is pregnant, she flies around with her fertilized eggs looking for her particular host plant by visual and chemical cues. She then lays her eggs on the leaves (often on the underside of the leaf) and as the larvae grow, they will eat out of their shells and then will eat the leaves of the host plant it is on. The host plant’s leaves provide many nutrients and defense chemicals that each butterfly will need to protect itself, helping it grow and survive to its chrysalis stage, and then on to butterfly-hood!
[VBVRS Butterfly Garden Design with plant material]
Here are a few of the easy guidelines we followed as we developed the VBVRS butterfly garden:
- Plant a wide variety of nectar- and pollen-rich flowers in your garden that will provide a succession of blooms from early spring until fall.
- Lean heavily on choosing from a diverse selection of native plants. The butterflies have co-evolved with these natives and often look to them for specific needs, whether it’s for food or using it as its “host” plant for reproduction.
- Plant large groups of the same flower to increase pollination efficiency. This helps the butterflies and other pollinators to transfer pollen to other flowers of the same species instead of wasting the pollen on the flowers of unreceptive plants.
- Provide shelter in your garden. Pollinators need protection from predators and weather. Leave areas of your gardens that are “messy” to provide a safe place to shelter when needed.
- Create a water feature, pond, birdbath or puddling bowl that has sloped sides to ensure the pollinators can easily sip without drowning.
- Plant herbs and annuals that are good for pollinators such as fennel, parsley, lavender, chives and mint. Annuals such as zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers are also favorites.
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